The Power of Conversations to Build Better Companies

31st July 2016

Andrea Darabos

Enterprise Lean Startup | Growth | Innovation | Agile Coach

Founder of Lean Advantage

Summer is a perfect time for self-development. It is great to bring your favourite books to the park on a Saturday, or to the seaside holidays. However, the stories in books stay dormant until they are shared with colleagues, friends – evolved through conversations and put into practice.

I have been fortunate to have a great circle of friends and colleagues always recommending the right books to me at the right time. Having mentored a large change program on customer focus in the past year with a multinational, we faced multiple challenges to explain to stakeholders that such change cannot be led to success in a top-down way or according to pre-defined timelines. We ran a number of experiments utilising the power of conversations – both informal and organised sessions – to catalyse new, customer-oriented thinking in the company. We concluded that these experiments were a success as we built a momentum of forward thinking and action in the company – asking “What is possible” and “How could we…”. Thanks for all of you who contributed to these conversations!

The books below were instrumental that helped me think about organisations as living organisms, where people bring their whole themselves to work. Including their hearts and minds and a full set of skills, interests and strenghts. Jurgen Appelo’s Management 3.0 Workout talks about the evolution of the metaphor of organisations – from machines to living organisms and networked, creative communities. It is filled with example stories from companies around the world on how they changed their metaphors and organisational culture or built it from the ground up. About the same time, the book Reinventing organisations by Frederic Laloux was published and is packed with examples of fantastic organisations evolving themselves and reinventing traditional HR and management practices. The usage of new language and conversations to re-create a healthy, soulful company is described in Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management.

How does all this apply to the wider professional world?

About 18 months ago, with a colleague Ryan Behrman, we started a meetup in London to discuss how to build better companies. We believed that the good examples are around us, we only need to recognise them and share them more often. The monthly events attracted a gradually growing group of change catalysts, culture shifters, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, all leaders in their field. Slowly, our ability to help and inspire each other grew as more and more stories were shared, discussed and better outcomes imagined. I don’t know if we all realised, but this is how we are shaping the future. Can you build a dense professional network around a topic that you would like to move forward? Why not start with a few colleagues in your company, then move beyond organisational boundaries?



Our highlights of this experience have been plenty –

An Open Space discussion on how to build engaging, soulful, creative organisations trended topics around building trust, continuous improvement and a creative workplace environment,

A visit by Lisette Sutherland, the Creator of Collaboration Superpowers, running a workshop on how to work remotely effectively while also having fun,

A talk an discussion with Anna Oblukhova around brain science, willpower and maintaining energy in agile teams,

A great fishbowl discussion inspired by the amazing Unruly Media people Rachel Davies and Diana Murfitt, on People Centric Workplaces and practices. And this list continues with plenty of fascinating examples.

I would like to thank you all here who joined, asked questions and shared your stories of great leadership.

Interested to join our next meetup? Bring your stories and questions. Let’s Dream Big and move the world forward through better, more conscious and soulful organisations. Remember, You don’t need to be a manager to change yourself and inspire others around You!

Would you like to spend some structured time to discuss and to evolve the latest practices on decision-making, organisation design, change managment and motivation? Join a Management 3.0 Workout in London (next one is 17th-18th September) or in other UK cities – and let’s work those imagination and management muscles. See our schedule here.

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